Weeklong exercise at Yokota will test wing's readiness
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 374th Airlift Wing is taking another look at its ability to tackle a wartime mission with the year’s second Operational Readiness Exercise, which begins Friday and runs through Sept. 17.
The last one was held this past May, but the exercise tempo increases dramatically over the next eight months, with four more OREs scheduled. All are designed to sharpen wing preparations for the Operational Readiness Inspection by Pacific Air Forces in late May.
“In short, this prepares us for the ORI run by PACAF,” said Maj. Clarence Lukes, the 374th Airlift Wing’s deputy inspector general. “What we do here is to validate the wing’s readiness over a wide range of contingency operations through exercises. We’re validating the wing’s readiness for our wartime mission.
“As far as preparation goes, the units are ready. What we do is confirm that.”
In this exercise, scenarios will be scripted to stress mobility and sortie generation, Lukes said. That includes deploying assets as well as receiving cargo — all in support of the wing’s wartime mission.
While all units under the 374th Airlift Wing umbrella face scrutiny in the next week, the 730th Air Mobility Squadron also will be a major player in the ORE.
“They’ll actively take part in this exercise,” Lukes said. “They will be hand-in-hand with us in that mobility process. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do here without them. They’re an integral part of not only the exercise but our operations as well.”
The weeklong session consists of two interactive phases, Lukes said: the shipment and receiving of cargo and operational possibilities within a potentially hostile environment.
“We’re looking to get cargo out of here and receive cargo assets,” he added. “Normally, that’s handled in somewhat of a benign environment. This time, it’ll be more of an operational contingency kind of environment. There’ll be aggression and possible attacks: Those things will be pointed toward the base, and we’ll be evaluated on how we react to that.
“There’s no discerning line between Phase I and Phase II. They bleed over into one another. You can’t get away from simultaneous operations. That’s what we’re going to do in this ORE.”
The exercise examines four wing functions: command and control, operations, mission support and the ability to survive and operate.
An overall grade will be handed out by the base’s inspector general office about two weeks after the drill, Lukes said. It’s based on a standard five-tier evaluation system used by the Air Force, which delivers marks for outstanding, excellent, satisfactory, marginal and unsatisfactory performances.
“In the IG office, we detach ourselves somewhat, so we can give the wing an objective look,” he said. “Based on what I’ve seen, just the whole preparation for our day-to-day operations and mission, I feel fairly confident the wing will do well.
“But there’s no guarantee. We have [a] game plan that’s going to stress the wing, and we’ll see from there how they react.”
Tech. Sgt. Alma English, the noncommissioned officer in charge of inspections for the 374th Airlift Wing’s inspector general office, said local Japanese officials have been informed about the exercise and impact should be minimal to base residents.
However, the overrun on the south end of Yokota’s runway will be closed Monday for the exercise’s duration, he added.
“We’ve been through these exercises on a regular basis, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises,” English said. “But any nonplayers in the exercise or anyone driving a personally owned vehicle will have to use the north overrun to get to the opposite side of base. That’s something they might not be familiar with.”
“The base populace and surrounding area are used to having sirens go off during the daytime, and the giant voice coming on. We’re good to observe quiet hours for any loud noises or plane traffic, so there won’t be any surprises with that. That’s all part of our normal procedure during an exercise.”
The next ORE is slated for Nov. 2-9, with additional drills to follow in January, March and April.